Meaningful career paths often elude young adults who live in poverty and other groups hampered by high rates of unemployment. Lacking skills and access to training, many struggles just to earn a stable living. But that’s changing as companies discover advantages in impact sourcing, a growing segment of the out-sourcing landscape. Impact sourcing prioritizes suppliers who hire and create advancement opportunities for workers who’d otherwise face bleak career prospects.
The approach is gaining mainstream recognition. For example, this fall, the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) is launching its Impact Sourcing Champions Index, a compilation of companies that stand out for how they’ve used impact sourcing to make a difference, both in business and in workers’ lives.
“This isn’t a trend any- more—this is a solid business practice,” says IAOP CEO Debi Hamill. “It creates a lot of loyalty, higher levels of employee engagement, and lower attrition rates.”
The new index includes such leaders as iContact, a business process outsourcing firm with operations in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Its 1,200 employees handle customer service for sectors as varied as retail, health care, and banking.
About 90% of iContact employees are recruited through impact sourcing, according to chief commercial officer Trent Lockstone. The average age is 23, and 65% are women and 10% are disabled. Many come from townships with no electricity or running water.
But their outlook is bright. They’re gaining professional skills and transferable credentials in areas such as business administration and contact center management. “If you do it properly,” Lockstone says, “you can meet the requirements of impact sourcing and still exceed the matrix of what your customers want.”
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